Student profile: Kevin Hsu

Name: Kevin Hsu
Location: Hong Kong
Age: 21
Job title: Full-time student

It’s stressful to have to declare a major when you haven’t decided what you want to do with your life. But that’s how colleges work so at some point during the sophomore or junior year, everyone who hasn’t already settled on a career path scrambles to figure out their area of specialization. That’s how Kevin Hsu ended up as a business major.

Kevin, who grew up in Taiwan and attends college in Hong Kong, was hardly unique. Business is one of those default majors people fall into because it’s broadly applicable, seems useful, and feels prudent as far as job prospects go. But Kevin, like so many before him, didn’t know what majoring in business would really entail and once he got into it, “I was kind of lost,” he recalls. “It was not what I wanted to do. I could do well at it but not enjoy it.”

Kevin’s girlfriend, meanwhile, was a computer science major, and Kevin found that more interesting. Traditional academic science classes in high school had turned him off to the subject, but web programming was something different. He loved taking an idea that existed only in his mind and having it visualized on a screen in front of him. “It’s motivating, that sense of achievement, and that feeling is way beyond what business brings me.” So Kevin decided to double-major in business and computer science, even though it would delay his graduation by half a year.

To accelerate his progress, Kevin went online to find additional resources that were more up-to-date than his college materials and would help him practice what he was learning. He had good early results with some free online coding tools, but “after about a month I got bored and needed something more detailed.” Enter Udemy.

The thing Kevin likes most about Udemy is the sheer variety available on the platform — of languages, frameworks, and even instructors. At any given time, Kevin is working on multiple projects, and “no other site supports all of these.” He learns best by doing so he really appreciates being able to search Udemy and “grab whatever I need, whenever I need it” and immediately apply it to one of the development projects he’s doing on behalf of student clubs or for himself. For example, he’s currently working on making a Meteor app with friends and enrolled in “Learn MeteorJS By Building 10 Real World Projects” so he could see how professional coders make similar apps.

For Kevin, it’s easy to stay motivated to learn now that he’s clicked with a field that engages him. He’s taken a bunch more Udemy courses (like “Bootstrap 4 Quick Start: Code Modern Responsive Websites” and “Web Design for Web Developers: Build Beautiful Websites”) he’s been trying to share his enthusiasm with other students too. While on a semester-long exchange program in Toronto, Kevin was part of a web developer community at school and got to build several websites and apps. Now, back in Hong Kong, he’s starting a similar group to study programming together and, once they have capacity, they’ll take projects from startups and NGOs to make websites for them. He says it’s important to have resources like Udemy and support from each other since “web development changes every moment and new frameworks come out every day,” making it impossible for his school to keep its curriculum current.

There’s a bit of irony to Kevin’s story too. Both of his parents are software engineers who urged him to study computer science. But, like a typical teenager, Kevin didn’t take what they said seriously and wanted to try something new and different. Now that he’s embracing IT, they’re happy to support him — and help pay for Udemy courses!

And Kevin is evangelizing the web dev field to others, regardless of what they’re studying. “You can be in any major and make websites and enjoy it,” Kevin says. “It’s not like a report or assignment; it’s something you can show people that you’ve achieved.”

Having the opportunity to create and achieve is exactly what Kevin has in mind for his future. He hopes to join one of the giants of Silicon Valley after graduation and believes the skills he’s learning on Udemy will help because they’re enabling him to complete projects that demonstrate his competency.